Advocates: Don’t ignore teen dating violence

Published 9:30 am Thursday, February 24, 2011

It happens locally, and it’s not OK.

That’s the message leaders of the Freeborn County Crime Victims Crisis Center want to share with the community this month during what is known as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

CVCC Volunteer Coordinator Michelle French said one in three teenagers across the nation reports knowing a friend who has been “hit, punched, kicked, slapped, strangled or physically hurt by their boyfriend or girlfriend.”

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“Definitely we see that it happens,” French said. “But it’s going to be way under-reported because sometimes they don’t realize that what is going on is abuse.”

Teen dating violence not only includes physical abuse, but also verbal and emotional abuse too, she said.

She noted that teen dating abuse isn’t an argument every once in a while or one bad day here and there; it’s a pattern of abuse.

“Everybody gets into an argument and everyone has bad days, but abuse is a pattern that’s happening all the time,” French said.

She noted some of the behavior is probably being learned in the home or from their peers.

“Whether you know them personally or not, teens at your own school are in unhealthy relationships,” French said. “And these can follow them into adulthood.”

She said CVCC leaders hope to put together some teen dating violence kits — which include red flags of teen dating violence, CVCC contact information, a dating bill of rights and information about different kinds of abuse — during the next month.

In the past, these kits have been dispersed as prom packs in April or May. All juniors and seniors will receive one.

“From what I’ve heard, they’ve been well received by the students,” French said.

To find out more about teen dating violence, contact French at 377-5464.

What to watch
Signs of teen dating violence:
• The teenager’s relationship becomes very serious, very quickly.
• The teenager is often apologetic about the behavior of his or her dating partner.
• The teenager makes excuses for his or her dating partner.
• The teenager loses interest in activities he or she used to enjoy and stops spending time with family and friends.
• The teenager has unexplained injuries or an excuse for them that doesn’t make sense.
• The dating partner is not thought of highly by family, friends and teachers.
• The dating partner threatens harm.
• The dating partner is extremely jealous.
• The dating partner insults, humiliates or puts down the teenager in front of others.
— Freeborn County CVCC